The study activity viewers were designed simultaneously with the creators to ensure as much of a cohesive experience as possible between the two. As for the analytics, one of our developers/product owners came to me with the request for a design for analytics to be shown in assignments, which started the whole concept. The analytics per module, as you’ll later see, were created later to answer on needs and pains expressed by our users. In all of this I was responsible for the whole thing, from concept development, research, to interaction- and visual design and testing. Of course, I consulted with the team often and they provided me with great feedback throughout the project.
These designs are based largely on the same research as the creation screens project since they were designed simultaneously. That research consisted mostly of interviews with teachers and with students. Also after designing we built and released a basic version and iterated based on feedback based on using that. For the analytics I did a separate research round. Multiple teachers asked us for certain data, all those teachers I interviewed about other data needs as well.
When students go to a study activity they usually do that without having a clear vision of what to do, they are there to get told what to do. Since homework is still something most students don’t like doing they have very little intrinsic motivation to be in the study activity and will get frustrated from each little friction since that prevents them from completing the activity quick and being able to go grab a beer. Students want to just go there, see what they need to do, do the work, make sure they did it right, and get out.
Teachers, on the other hand, go to viewers to see how things are going and where they can help, and view the work of the students. The specific information they want to see is different for each study activity type but the insights they are looking for are usually to see which students are spending a lot of time but have very little results, or students that spend very little time but have a lot of results, and students that haven’t even started yet short before the deadline. Basically, everyone that deviates too much from the average or from what the teacher expected needs to be looked into more thoroughly.
The design of the viewer structure is pretty much the same as the creators as you can see. This is so that the creators are as close to WYSIWYG as possible and teachers know exactly what to expect. Also, the step by step approach works really well for communicating different phases to students.
To make sure students always know what they need to do and won’t get distracted by tasks that are not relevant right now only the task they need to do now gets emphasized. When they are in a detail viewer it still needs to be clear why they are there, what they’re meant to do, and when they are done. This is especially applicable to detail viewers in which they are peer reviewing each other’s work since there it’s less evident when you’re done than when viewing a video.
For teachers, the hardest part was coming up with a way in which they can see lots of information in a way that’s not overwhelming but easy to read. They need to be able to see which students did what and where their help is needed. The information we do show needs to be obvious so that people without scientific background or who rarely work with statistics can easily make sense of them. Based on the amount of information each teacher wants to see and the fact that modules are done one after another, sometimes with weeks in between, I chose to show statistics underneath each module. This gives them the best insight into what’s happening and also prevents from statistics that are not relevant anymore to clutter the view.
I’ll start with the student viewers. For lots of study activities they look pretty normal; very similar to the creators but with nothing editable. Study activities like watching a video or reading a document are very self-explanatory so didn’t need much guidance. An example of an activity type where way more guidance was needed is assignments types like peer review. The students play a more active role in those and it’s harder for them to know what they need to do exactly.
In the general viewer of assignments, there are often multiple modules with deadlines that are a week or more apart. This means they’re going to revisit the activity quite often over a long period of time. Also, they might get graded for their efforts so it’s more important to them to do this right than watching a video, therefore they need extra reassurance that things are done. In the general viewer, they’re shown what the steps are, which ones they can’t do yet and why and which one to do now. A big call to action turned out to be pretty much all they want, plus clear messaging that communicates whether they’re actually done or not.
From the general viewer they might get into a detail viewer where they actually have to do things. If we stay in the example of a peer review assignment this is where they view a classmate’s work and review it using criteria set by the teacher. Per criteria they might need to give a rating and multiple comments as clarification referring to the work. This is something they don’t instinctively know so the interface clearly tells them what they need to do.
As mentioned before the teachers are there to supervise so they mostly need a lot of information on how everything is going. To make this as easy as possible I created a statistics block for every study activity type that shows the 3 most important numbers. Based on this the teacher can already decide if things are going good enough or if he wants to dig in deeper. If he wants to see more he can expand statistics per student, these show all the students and the most important stats per module on how they’re doing. This gives a good image of who is getting behind.
If they need even more information they can go to a module and lists with more details. Here students are divided by not started yet, started but not completed yet, and students that completed the tasks in the module. This is because even for students in different stages within one module there are sometimes different things the teacher wants to see. This means that each study activity, each module, each stage of a module shows different information.
To give the teacher a sense of where everyone is in a less abstract and more scannable way we show each student’s profile picture in the module and stage where they currently are. So when currently everyone is working on step 4 the teacher might see a few faces that got stuck in step 2 because they missed the hand in deadline. Or the teacher might see lots of faces being done with the current step and only a few still working on it. This brings some humanity back into all that data and makes it very easy to see in a glance where everyone is without having to go through tables with data when all that specificity is not what you’re looking for right now.
Another good purpose of this data is to verify whether the material the teacher uses in his course is good, things like video’s, documents, and practice questions. The statistics in videos and documents tell the teacher how long each student spent in it and how much of the total material they have seen. If a student has seen all of the 8-minute video but spent 15 minutes watching then apparently some things weren’t clear so he rewatched a lot of it. If one student does this there’s no cause for alarm but if lots of students do this there might be something in there that is too difficult or not explained clearly, or if a part is skipped often it might mean that part is very boring. That’s why in the detail viewer of videos and documents there is a graph visible that shows how much every part is viewed. It’s then up to the teacher to draw conclusions and choose whether or not to do something with them. At least now they have the tools to know. Teachers want nothing more than to use the perfect material to teach their students as much as possible in the time they get with them, so the more insights we can give them into how good their material is the better off everyone is.
Detail viewer of a video showing exactly which parts were viewed very often and where students started to drop off
During a course, the goals and needs of teachers and students are quite different. Students need to be able to find which activities they need to do and how to complete them, and teachers need to see what the students are doing and how they’re doing it to be able to help them out wherever needed. One big thing they do have in common is that both groups generally want to spend as little time as possible on this. In this case study, I’ll let you in on how I designed the study activities such that students are guided through them as smoothly as possible, and how we provide teachers with just the right amount of analytics to be able to help their students as effectively as possible without getting overwhelmed with data.